Mark West works a full season of cyclocross with Steve Tilford Foundation Racing, dives deep into the heart of cyclocross in Belgium for the first time.
If you ride bikes, you’ve probably had to do some simple mechanical things - like change a tire or raise your seat post or even wrap your handlebars - when it’s all broken down into bite size pieces, it doesn’t seem all that difficult - but to become a master of the machine, to really understand how things work - what makes the chain go up and down the sprockets, what makes that buzzing sound when we coast - and why do different bikes sound different? Why would I need to replace my chain and cassette if they’re not broken? What if I want hydraulic brakes on my bike? A good mechanic puts in years of tearing apart and rebuilding bikes and develops a deep understanding of how things work and what stuff works with other stuff. Mark West began wrenching nearly 20 years ago and has become a master of the trade. Ten years ago, he landed a spot on the professional cyclocross circuit- he’s worked for some of the best in the world; Ben Berden, Jamey Driscoll and Caroline Mani. If you follow cross today you’d recognize Kerry Warner, Becca Farringer, Lance Haidet - or maybe remember when Gage Hecht toppled Stephen Hyde as U.S. National Champ? In fact, he worked with the entire U.S. National team at the Cyclocross World Championships in 2022 when they were held in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
“You want to just go ballistic when your guy wins, but you’ve still gotta put all the stuff away…” Mark West
This year he found a spot on the Steve Tilford Foundation’s cyclocross team, handing bikes to Raylin Nuss, Lizzy Gunsalus and Curtis White. He was in Hartford Connecticut this past December, handing bikes to White as he battled Eric Brunner for the stars and stripes jersey - making sure he had the right tire pressure to take the victory!
In December West loaded the team gear on a plane and flew to Belgium to support the crew during one of the most intense periods in all of sport - The Kerstperiod - an action packed block of ten major races in the span of two weeks from Christmas through the first of the new year - and the best cyclist on earth all vying for World Cup or Superprestige points and preparing for the UCI World Championships.
“My first race in Europe was Gavere and I get there and immediately it’s harder… I don’t know if it was just Belgians being Belgians, but I got all kinds of wrong directions trying to find the pit.”
We sat down with West when he returned - we had to find the most northern European spot we could, so we landed at a back table at a German flavored pub in Des Moines, Hessen Haus - the staff are friendly and they’ve always got at least 50 German beers on tap - making it the second largest German beer pub in the world! The Manager, Ben Rasmussen, was kind enough to sit down with us to talk about what makes German beer German and Belgian beer Belgian -
Also, enjoy this interview with Mark West during the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships.
Mark spends the rest of the year taking care of bikes in Central Iowa as a mechanic at Bike World in West Des Moines.
Support Bike Talk with Dave by rating, reviewing and sharing on your favorite podcast platform. Help the show continue and improve by supporting at Buymeacoffee.com and you can receive a Bike Talk with Dave sticker!
Bike Talk with Dave is supported by Chain and Spoke Coffee. Great bikes, great beans. Order your locally roasted beans today at www.chainandspoke.com.
BIKEIOWA.com is the online host of Bike Talk with Dave. Find a full list of Iowa and Midwest events, trails and news. Event Directors, make sure your event is listed by creating and account where you can add and edit your event, reaching thousands of cyclists for free! Follow this guide!
One of those events is the Driftless 100, a 30, 60 or 100 mile gravel ride on April 29, starting in Elkader, Iowa. Register today at www.driftlessgravel.com or look for the event on the BIKEIOWA calendar. If you want to get some early gravel miles in, head to Texas for the Rattlesnake Gravel Grind for a 30, 65 or 110-mile ride around Sweetwater, Texas. Register at www.rattlesnakegravelgrind.bike.